Russians Resist Pricey Tix

Russian audiences are losing their appetite for Western acts because the ticket prices are too high, according to the Moscow Times.

The article quoted Sergei Melnikov, general director of promoter Melnitsa, saying the number of 10,000-plus-capacity shows by Western artists in Russia has tripled in the last three years. Others, including Dmitry Zaretsky of SAV Entertainment and Mikhail Shurygin of NCA, explained why the market has become saturated in 2008.

The western acts that have suffered from the sales slump include Kylie Minogue, the Sex Pistols and Lenny Kravitz, leaving local promoters blaming rising costs and high artist fees for a number of loss-making events.

“The supply of shows by top Western acts exceeded demand this summer,” Zaretsky, senior talent booker for SAV, told the paper.

His company organized Kravitz’s June 14 concert at Moscow’s 20,000-capacity Olimpiisky sports complex and co-organized Minogue’s concert at the same venue two days later.

Minogue sold well throughout Europe, including seven 18,000-capacity shows at London’s O2 Arena, but Shurygin reported that her 15,000-capacity show at Moscow Olimpiisky was only half full.

“People have enough cash to spend on tickets but, if there are too many similar concerts one after another, they can’t attend [them] all,” Shurygin said.

The NCA president told the paper that his company promoted Minogue’s June 18 concert at St. Petersburg’s 14,000-capacity New Arena, co-promoted her Olimpiisky show and took a loss on each. It also dropped money on a Sex Pistols show at St. Petersburg’s 6,000-capacity Yubileiny sports complex.

Zaretsky declined to give exact ticket sales but said they “weren’t good.” He said high artists fees are cutting into promoters’ profits and driving up ticket prices.

“Western stars demand higher fees in Russia than, say, in Europe,” he explained, conceding that the costs they incur in Russia are also higher.

The newspaper report claims Moscow hotel rooms are among the most expensive in the world, with the better ones charging US$1,000 per night.

Tickets for Minogue’s Moscow show ranged from 1,000 rubles ($41) to 30,000 rubles ($1,230) for a VIP package.
Tickets to see Russian band Nautilus Pompilius December 17, the only domestic act scheduled to play the Olimpiisky between now and the new year, are all priced at 1,500 rubles ($62).

How much the artists’ agents are responsible for the situation looks to be open to dispute.
Shurygin said one of the biggest problems is that new promoters, often operating on cash from investors, are offering unrealistically high fees and pushing the artists’ prices up.

“Unfortunately, agents sometimes opt for higher fees rather than use the established companies,” he explained.
However, Neil Warnock – head of London-based The Agency Group – who has been taking rock bands to Russia since the ’70s and will have Deep Purple there next month, said the promoters have only themselves to blame.

“You should know your market,” he said. “If you allow the artist to be overpriced, that is the promoter’s fault. If the artists want a zillion dollars, promoters have the option to say no.”